Susan Tchudi is explaining to me about “adaptogenic” herbs as we walk around the herbal garden growing behind her home at TurkeyTail Farm. “Modern herbalists consider herbs help to calm or soothe the body, neither over-stimulating nor inhibiting normal body function adaptogenic.” According to the Nutrition Science News, “at the core of an adaptogen’s scope of actions is the ability to help the body cope more effectively with stress. Specifically, adaptogens are believed to recharge the adrenal glands, which are the body’s nominal mechanism for responding to stress and emotional changes.” Photo: Some of the offerings in the Summer 2012 CSA herbal share from Everything Herbal.
Susan is the co-creator with her husband, sons and daughters in law – most recently – of a relatively new-quarterly CSA, Everything Herbal, in the Yankee Hill, Oroville, Paradise Chico areas based on her culinary and medicinal herbs and products made from them or inspired by them. Photo: Echinacea in bloom at TurkeyTail Farm, home of Everything Herbal CSA.
TurkeyTail is a 40-acre diversified family farm set in beautiful pasture, oak savanna and chaparral in Yankee Hill. From their house, Susan and her husband Steve overlook a branch of Lake Oroville as well as the homes (at least part time) of their two sons known as Mojo and Cheetah, and their respective wives, Heatherlee and Sammey. The farm was begun by Cheetah Tchudi with pastured goats, sheep, poultry, pigs seasonally, and cultivated gourmet mushrooms more than 5 years ago. Edible Shasta Butte wrote about the starting of the farm in 2010. Both young couples were married on the land and the idea of a multi-generation homestead farm is all of their dreams. Photo: TurkeyTail farm was named after the reknowned medicinal mushroom known as Turkey Tail mushroom. When the farm first got started, gourmet mushrooms were also cultivated.
Susan and Steve, both retired English professors from the University of Nevada, Reno are the hosts of Ecotopia, a program exploring topics on creating a more sustainable word and aired weekly on local community radio KZFR, Chico. All six members of the family chip in on the farm and contribute to its many endeavors including the Everything Herbal CSA share. Mojo has trained as an herbalist and has worked with Susan extensively on the herbs they grow and the products they offer in each season’s Everything Herbal share. Steve Tchudi is an artist who painted the Holy Basil print in each of the summer shares; Sammey Zangrilli, who also works at the California Organic Flower Farm in Chico, handcrafted a citronella/beeswax candle also in the share. Photo: Flowers and colorful flower petals are used in infusions and for crafted items in Everything Herbal shares.
Dressed in a t-shirt which reads “Live within Earth’s Means”, Susan gestures across her rows and rows of basil varieties – one of which is Holy Basil – included in the long list of herbs considered to be adaptogens. “Adaptogens have the unique ability to switch from stimulating to sedating effects based on the body’s needs, helping our bodies to balance themselves. They help us adapt to our conditions and maintain our health and energy.” Photo: Susan Tchudi.
Most of the herbs – mint, lemon balm, basil, red raspberry leaves, thyme, oregano, echinacea, goji berries, parsley, lavender, calendula and chamomile, to name a few – that Susan cultivates have some adaptogenic property: fragrance, oil, leaves when dried and eaten, roots when infused, petals, etc. Photo: Ruffled purple basil and goji berries below at TurkeyTail farm. The purple basil is one of the basils dried in the Amazing basil mix from the summer share. I recently sprinkled some into fresh garden potato salad, as well as onto sauteed zucchini and summer squash. Both uses were delicious and illustrated nicely the fact that drying often makes both the flavor and fragrance of some herbs even more intense.
As Susan talks, there is heavy smoke in the air from recent nearby fires, and her plants are stressed from low water while TurkeyTail is waiting for its well to be deepened. The ducks are working the garden for grasshoppers, which have been bad this year, and the border collies are cheerfully herding the three ducks as they do so. Susan describes the items in the summer share, she describes the recipes in the summer newsletter she likes best for the herb mixes, the cooling effect of the tea mixes and all that she herself is learning as she grows in her herbal knowledge and experience. Photo: Susan tending to an herb start. Susan, with the help of son Mojo, and garden designer Jim Belles, has started much of her stock from seed. The garden is made up of trees, shrubs, herbaceous and woody perennials, bulbs and annuals from which seed is collected for the next season.
Susan’s passion for TurkeyTail Farm and their CSA Everything Herbal, and her hope that it can be a model in the region for both practicality and ecological consciousness, strikes me as itself being adaptogenic, helping others of us to be more balanced in our own endeavors. Photo: Creatures at play in the Four Directions garden.
The mission/vision statement of Everything Herbal states: “Our goal is to create quality herbal products — culinary, body, health, and artistic — that are beautiful, healing and nutritious. Almost everything is handcrafted here at TurkeyTail Farm with products we’ve grown, what we cannot grow ourselves we source from the highest quality producers. We grow without chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. We promote appropriate technology, ecological farming, and energy0wise food and herb production. We aim to become a model of practical, profitable, ecologically conscious agriculture.” Signed – Growers, artists and herbalists: Susan and Stephen Tchudi, Mojohito and Heatherlee Richerson von Tchudi, Samantha Zangrilli. Photo: Three ducks work the garden for pests and lay eggs for the Tchudis.
The Summer CSA box from Everything Herbal includes:
Three one-ounce herb mixtures: Including fancy purple basil, lemon/lime basil, oregano; parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, winter savory
Two one-ounce tea mixes (about 20 servings each): Including chamomile and tulsi (new this season)
Herbal vinegar (250 ml) Rosemary, winter savory, and thyme
Lavender honey (3.75 oz)
Kumbucha (1 quart) by Mojohito Richerson von Tchudi
English Lavender/Oatmeal Bath Soak
Citronella candle by Sammey Zangrilli
Framed watercolor print of Tulsi (sacred basil) by Stephen Tchudi
Newsletter with recipes, herb facts, and update on TurkeyTail Farm.
Seasonal shares are $70. We offer shares available quarterly. If you prepay for all four seasons, you receive 15% discount. We deliver to Chico, Oroville, and Paradise. We ship anywhere in the US for $10 more. Checks can be made to Susan Tchudi OR TurkeyTail Farm and mailed to TurkeyTail Farm, 10846 Nelson Bar Road, Oroville, CA 95965.
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In a North State Garden is a weekly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time. Podcasts of past shows are available here.